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Questlove MasterClass Review: Music Curation and DJing

If you want to learn more about the craft of DJing, there’s probably no better teacher than Questlove. Check out our honest review to make sure his course really meets your needs.

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Questlove Teaches Music Curation and DJing MasterClass: Our Verdict (2024)


4.6 / 5

Questlove’s MasterClass deals with the essentials of DJing and music curation. A famous DJ and Roots drummer teaches how to gather music, plan a set, and make effective transitions. He also shares stories and lessons he learned throughout his rich career, providing useful tips and honest advice for aspiring DJs and music curators.


  • Immersive lessons
  • Interesting stories
  • Great instructor
  • Questlove’s bonus mix


  • Lack of versatility

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As a true music lover and a former radio music editor, I was very curious about Questlove’s MasterClass.

Questlove is, after all, one of the most iconic DJs and musicians out there. So, even though I wasn’t sure if he was a good teacher as well, I decided to trust my instincts and take the class.

In this honest review, I’ll tell you everything about my learning experience and delve deeper into the content, highlights, and potential drawbacks of the course.

Without further ado, let’s see what Questlove’s course is all about!

Table of Contents

What is the Questlove MasterClass?

Questlove Teaches Music Curation and DJing” is an online course offered by MasterClass, a popular online learning platform known for its team of well-known instructors.

Questlove is an award-winning musician, DJ, and producer, best known as the drummer and frontman of the hip-hop band The Roots. He has been spinning records all around the world, including the White House. In other words, he is undoubtedly one of the most qualified instructors imaginable for this course.

In his MasterClass, Questlove talks about his love for records and music, but he also delves deeper into the practical side of DJing. He talks about equipment, DJ techniques, and tricks he learned over the past few decades.

Questlove’s course contains 13 video lessons with a duration of 3 hours and 23 minutes. 

Questlove speaking in his MasterClass

Who is Questlove?

Ahmir K. Thompson, professionally known as Questlove, has been immersed in music since his childhood. He has now spent nearly half a century in the music industry – as a musician, record producer, bandleader, and an elite DJ.

Questlove is a founding member, frontman, and drummer of The Roots, a successful hip-hop group that also serves as an in-house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Some other highlights of Questlove’s impressive career include producing the Broadway cast recording of Hamilton, writing five books, launching a radio show on Pandora, teaching at New York University, and producing tracks for stars like Al Green and Jay-Z.

As a DJ, Questlove often spins records for the world’s biggest stars and musicians, and some of his gigs have included Beyoncé’s and Jay-Z’s Gold Party and Obama’s last party at the White House.

Who is Questlove’s MasterClass for?

Since Questlove’s class covers the fundamentals of DJing, it’s best suited for beginners and aspiring DJs who want to learn more about the craft.

However, don’t expect a step-by-step guide to Serato or similar DJ programs. Although Questlove does show the basics and some tricks, you would still need additional learning sources to really learn how the program works.

Nevertheless, Questlove’s course offers a solid foundation on which to build.

Plus, it provides something that standard online DJ courses don’t – guidance from one of the most iconic DJs. 

There’s also a lesson dedicated to more advanced DJ techniques, so even more experienced DJs can take something out of this course.

Finally, this MasterClass offers a ton of fun facts and stories for Questlove’s fans. And, of course, for anyone passionate about records, especially hip-hop, funk, and 80s music.

To sum things up, learners who would benefit from Questlove’s course the most include:

  • Beginner DJs and music curators
  • Music lovers and record collectors
  • Fans of Questlove’s music and work

What does Questlove's MasterClass cover?

In his MasterClass, Questlove teaches how to be a better DJ, use various DJ tools, and make an impactful playlist.

But Questlove’s goal isn’t only to help you become a successful DJ. He wants you to become a curious, knowledgeable, and authentic DJ.

“Loving music, and learning how to find it, and appreciate it, and use it to find effect – that’s what I want to teach you,” says Questlove.

In terms of content, the course covers a lot of ground, but Questlove breaks it down so nicely that I didn’t feel confused or overwhelmed at any point.

Also, there’s a nice balance between personal stories and practical stuff.

Here is a quick content overview to give you a better idea of what to expect from each lesson:

  • Lesson 1 is an introductory lesson where Questlove introduces himself and the course.
  • Lesson 2 deals with Questlove’s DJ setup and his equipment preferences.
  • Lesson 3 is focused on the importance of harvesting and analyzing songs. Questlove shares some of his ways of gathering and absorbing music.
  • Lessons 4-5 contain Questlove’s tips and opinions on technology. He also teaches fundamental DJing skills and shows how to use Serato.
  • Lesson 6 provides a detailed look at Questlove’s White House gig and everything that he learned that night.
  • Lessons 7-8 contain tips on how to be a better DJ, including sequencing, vibe checking, and training your ears to listen.
  • Lesson 9 contains more advanced DJ techniques.
  • Lessons 10-11 are focused on improving your skills by expanding your musical knowledge and finding inspiration from other DJs.
  • Lesson 12 offers a closer look at Questlove’s playlist and the intricacies of his transitions.
  • Lesson 13 is a bonus lesson where Questlove performs his exclusive MasterClass playlist in an unedited DJ set.

My favorite parts of Questlove’s MasterClass

Honestly, I am surprised by how much I enjoyed Questlove’s class. I knew that he had a lot to share and teach, but the depth of his knowledge and nuances of his DJing skills were unknown to me.

The course is also well-structured, so he managed to cover the basics and make an introduction to more advanced techniques, too.

I liked the parts where he shared stories and anecdotes; the more technical chapters were insightful and useful as well… not to mention the grand finale and his MasterClass DJ set.

So, it’s hard to pick the best part of the course, but here are some of my personal favorites.

Gathering music: Organizing and pruning

Questlove speaking in his MasterClass
Questlove explaining how he harvests and analyzes hundreds of songs every week

As a professional and genuinely passionate DJ and record collector, Questlove is truly committed to the craft. In his case, this commitment entails weekly challenges of creating themed playlists (his version of a crossword puzzle) and pruning songs.

Every week, Questlove ‘harvests’ and analyzes hundreds of songs. He listens to them thoroughly, determines what note and BPM it is, and categorizes them if necessary.

Categorizing songs is crucial if you want to stay organized as a DJ and music curator. In this lesson, Questlove shows the files on his laptop: his Jay-Z and Beyoncé Gold Party set, an 80’s Funk Mix, and his Killers file – a list of hits that always work.

DJing at the White House: Surviving failure

Questlove speaking in his MasterClass
Questlove’s biggest gig was also his biggest failure

You don’t hear first-hand stories about partying and DJing in the White House every day… But if you take lessons from Questlove, that’s just one of the crazy life experiences you’ll hear about.

Barack Obama’s last party at the White House was for many a night to remember. However, Questlove remembers it as the biggest failure of his career. So, although it was fun to hear about Obama’s music wishes, this lesson is actually about dealing with failure.

The most important thing Questlove learned at this gig is that if the initial plan isn’t working and the crowd simply isn’t into it, it’s okay to make a different turn. There’s nothing wrong with ‘serving the people,’ and that’s why adapting is one of the skills every DJ should accept and acquire.

Planning your set: Sequencing and vibe checking

Questlove speaking in his MasterClass
Questlove sharing his tricks to get people back on the dancefloor

To avoid failure, DJs need to plan their set carefully. But as Questlove learned at his White House gig, you also need to be able to adapt.

At the beginning of his set, Questlove always ‘tests’ the audience to check their age, energy, and expectations. He then proceeds with some ‘safe’ genres like dancehall and builds things up. However, he avoids playing one big hit after another, and he usually saves all the heavy hitters for the last hour.

This lesson contains a ton of tips on how to engage your audience and make them want to stay in the club a little longer.

How much does the MasterClass cost?

MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, so it’s not possible to purchase courses individually. If you want to take this MasterClass, you have to become a subscriber.

The standard annual plan has been renamed "Plus" and is available at $120 a year (which makes it $10 per month, billed annually), and now provides access to all MasterClass courses on two devices instead of one. The Premium plan, providing access for up to six devices costs $240 per year.

A MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 200+ classes, so if you want to take multiple classes throughout the year, the subscription is definitely worth it, and there are pleny of interesting courses on related topics to explore.

Also, the platform offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.

Note that the "Standard" membership, priced at $72 per year, only gives you access to their short-form learning content – none of their full MasterClasses are included.

What I liked about Questlove’s MasterClass

Here are some of the reasons why I believe Questlove’s course is worth taking.

Great instructor

It’s not easy to keep grabbing someone’s attention for more than 3 hours. But Questlove managed to do it – and he looked like he was doing it effortlessly. 

You can tell that Questlove has experience in teaching. He knows exactly what he wants to say and why, and he gives great examples to prove his point.

He is friendly but serious and focused, and, importantly, he is very honest and open about his approach to DJ. His advice to young DJs feels genuine, which ultimately makes him even more likable.

Immersive lessons

One of the reasons why the class didn’t feel lengthy or dull was Questlove’s ability to tell a story in an interesting way.

I was really immersed in his storytelling.

Also, whenever he is talking about a song or a technique, he shows it on his laptop so you can experience it through music as well.

Interesting stories

Without a doubt, Questlove’s stories are fun and interesting. And, at times, crazy. I mean, who else can tell you a story about running away from a DJ gig at the White House?

But the thing about Questlove is that he doesn’t tell stories just to prove something or to brag – there’s a valuable lesson in each of his stories.

Questlove's bonus mix

Well, the final lesson was a real treat.

With a duration of approximately 20 minutes, Questlove’s special unedited DJ set encapsulates everything he was pointing out throughout the course, from careful choice of songs to seamless transitions and scratching.

Drawbacks of Questlove’s MasterClass

I would recommend Questlove’s course to his fans as well as anyone passionate about records and music curation. However, there are some minor things that could be improved.

Lack of versatility

Unlike many other MasterClasses, Questlove’s course is rather static and monotonous in terms of content delivery. All lessons are filmed at the same place, and there are not that many additional behind-the-scenes clips.

Also, there are no discussions, Q&A sessions, or similar sections. It’s just Questlove and his equipment.

But thanks to Questlove’s teaching and storytelling skills, this didn’t affect my overall learning experience that much.

Review conclusion: Is Questlove’s MasterClass worth it?

If you’re interested in DJing and records, Questlove’s MasterClass is definitely worth taking.

As an experienced DJ and genuine record lover, Questlove surely has a lot to say about how to make an impact with music.

In 13 video lessons, he talks about fundamental DJ skills, equipment, technology, and his ways of gathering and categorizing music. On top of that, he shares some highlights and failures of his exciting career, offering helpful tips and honest advice.

I learned a lot from Questlove. Plus, I discovered some cool tracks to listen to.

That said, I’m really glad I had a chance to take this MasterClass, and if you’re a music lover like me, I’m sure you would enjoy it too.